Helen Marie McGreevy Gannon, 89, died at home on September 19, 2011. She was born on November 19, 1921, in Waterloo, Iowa, to Irene Kulp McGreevy and Joseph McGreevy.
As a child of the Great Depression, she learned to be resourceful. She graduated from Waterloo's Sacred Heart Catholic School in 1939, and afterwards moved to Des Moines with her family. Known for her quick mind and typing skills, she soon found work as a secretary at a downtown insurance company.
After a courtship often including big band dances at the Tromar Ballroom, she married John Joseph Gannon on April 13, 1944. The young couple saw hope for a safe, productive future in post-war America. Nine months and two weeks after their wedding, she had a daughter--the first of 14 children. Eventually, she set the record as the mother of the most babies born at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Over the course of nine decades, 64 people would call her Mom and Grandma, and hundreds more would cherish her as a mentor and symbol of strength.
Helen Gannon proved that principles, faith, and community remain important. She loved music, dancing, collecting dolls, traveling, shopping, reading, writing (with beautiful penmanship and perfect spelling), and solving Jumble puzzles almost instantly. She enjoyed baking, as well, and was proud of her blue ribbons from the Iowa State Fair. She devoted herself to the Catholic Church, and found support in prayers and patron saints. She was profoundly honest and forthright, and always made time to talk with family and friends. She retained an extraordinary memory. Through the decades, in her natural and assured way, she kept her large brood connected and secure in her love for them all.
She is survived by her daughters Sheila (Ron) Paukert of Rochester, MN; Marianne (Stephen) Depetris of Oakland, CA; Jeanie (Anthony) Rose of Seaford, NY; Maureen (Mike) Ryan of Mitchellville, IA; Bebe (Dave) Pyle of Baxter, IA; Annie (Dan) Wasson of Mingo, IA; Eileen (Doug Hutchison) Gannon of Des Moines, IA; sons Dan (Mari) Gannon of Ankeny, IA; Jim (Angela) Gannon of Halualoa, HI; Mike (Brenda) Gannon of Colfax, IA; Bob Gannon of Henderson, NV; Richard Gannon of Des Moines, IA; Joe Gannon of Temecula, CA; sister Barbara Davis of St. Paul MN; 26 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by John Gannon, her husband of 55 years; her son Christopher Gannon; sister Mildred Coughlin; and brothers Mark and Gene McGreevy.
A visitation will be held Thursday, September 22, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Colfax, Iowa. The family will be present from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A funeral mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday, September 23, in the same church. Contributions may be made to the Helen Gannon Memorial. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.coburnfuneralhomes.com.
We are so sorry for your loss - many great years from a wonderful mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Many blessings from the Clinton Franciscans on the death of your wonderful mother. I will never forget how our families prayed together side by side ,week after week in our little Sacred Heart Church. Your Mom was a beautiful example of what women can be and do in this world.
Dear Gannon Family: Obviously, I am sorry that I can't be there today to celebrate Aunt Helen's life. What a wonderful and caring Aunt she was to my family and especially to my mother over the years. I will always remember Aunt Helen as a person who you could kid with, but also who could give it right back to you. I have always been grateful, though never officially expressing it, to the Gannon kids, for the many times that you stopped and saw my mother, visited with her and stayed in touch with her over the years. As one person mentioned in the tributes here, what a "legacy" she left behind. No better word can express the life of your mother and my aunt. God Bless you all and take care.
Dear Gannon Family, Sorry to hear and read of the loss of your wonderful Mother Helen.. I will certainly remember her forever!!!! She was a wonderful lady and very sweet!!! I will always remember she and John attending all the Mingo sporting events!!!! She and John raised a beautiful family to be proud of!!!! Our sympathy and prayers to all of YOU!!!!! Also remember the Gannon children in 4-H to!!!! Great times at the fair in Colfax!!!!!
We are so very sorry for the loss of your mom. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Scott and Colleen Curry
My prayers and thoughts are with all of the Gannon family at the loss of your wonderful mom. I always thought she was such a classy and interesting lady. My fondest memory of her happened over twenty years ago after one of the great Mingo Alumni banquents over a drink at the famous Mingo bar when Helen shared the story of the courtship of she and John and the train rides back and forth to Waterloo!!
To the Gannon Family: I am deeply sorry for your loss. Aunt Helen will be fondly remembered with a big smile on her face and a quick wit. My prayers and thoughts are with you during this time. God bless all of you.
Sheila & family: Our daughter, Kim that lives in Des Moines and our son Curt in Ankeny, called us about the loss of this wonderful lady. It has been many years since spending time with Sheila on overnights on the farm. A wonderful memory of both John & Helen and all the kids I will carry with me for ever. Please remember each and everyone of you our in our prayers. God Bless
Eileen: Mary and I grieve with you and your family and friends on this tragic unexpected loss of your mother. Our prayers are with you all during this difficult time. May the awesome inclusive love of our Lord Jesus Christ give you comfort.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Gannon family during this time. My favorite memory of Aunt Helen? Dancing with her at my wedding reception at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver many years ago. She was quite the mover and groover...much better dancer than I was/am. Helen, Millie, and the rest of the family will have so much to catch up on...what a talkfest that's going to be! Again, all of you are in my family's thoughts and prayers. Sorry I can't make it back for the funeral.
To the Gannon Family: We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of your mother. She was a wonderful woman and aunt and a lifelong friend to our mother, always there in times of need, as well as the fun times. I had some old 8mm films converted to CD a few months ago and discovered some scenes from a get-together at the farm from the late 50's or early 60's. They include a couple of shots of your mom and dad, grandma and papa McGreevy, aunt Barbara, uncle Mark and a whole passel of kids. Unfortunately, I am not sufficiently tech-savvy to include it with this message. They will be nice to have as we remember her in our thoughts and prayers. Regards - The Mike Coughlin Family - Burke, VA
Helen truly was my second mother, which is saying the most I can say about her considering my own mother was Irene Wilson. My memories of John and Helen and their wonderful family of friends are too many to capture here, but I hold them all in my heart. In more recent times she came all the way out to Colorado to celebrate my 50th birthday (maybe not so recent!) - which says it all when it comes to friendship. May she rest in peace with John and Chris...and most certainly will in my memories. I pray Helen's family all find joy and peace in having such a wonderful person you were priviliged to call "Mom".
I am so sorry for your loss.. what a wonderful woman - she leaves behind a great legacy.
I'm so sorry to hear of your great loss! I knew several of the Gannon kids as I was growing up. They were strong pillars of the community as their parents were! She will be missed by tons of people!
I'm so sorry to hear about Aunt Helen's passing. She was a very special woman and will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the Gannon family & to Aunt Barbara.
Helen was a great friend of my mom and a lovely, classy lady. I still have a note she wrote Mom when I was born. The P.S. reads "Tell Sister Zita that I'll see her soon.' Chris was born shortly after. My loving thoughts are with all of the epic Gannon family.
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